Peter Kago‘s Story of Triumph over TB
The aromatic odor of blue gum trees welcomes you as you make your way around Kinangop constituency. Located east of the grandiose Aberdare ranges, the two-hour drive from Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, provides a sweeping view of rolling hills, ridges, valleys and well-terraced farms.
This is home to Peter Kago, a Kenyan whose experience with tuberculosis (TB) was a near tragedy. A teacher at a local primary school, Peter has not been able to engage in his passion for close to two years. He became very ill in 2013. “I lost my voice and therefore I have not been able to teach. My search for treatment has cost me a lot of money and a misdiagnosis at a private hospital almost led to brain surgery.” Peter experienced pain on the left side of his body, describing a “burning sensation,” which resulted in many sleepless nights.
An MRI exam performed in a private hospital in Nairobi would later reveal that the 41-year-old father of three had a TB bacterial infection in his spine. He was not sure what this meant but recognized that it was a serious condition. Peter could not afford to pay for treatment and decided that he would take his results to a government facility because cost of treatment there would be fairly cheaper.
As he planned to do this, Peter was referred by a friend to see Dr. Sofia at the government-run Eastleigh Clinic. His friend advised him that it would take less time to see a doctor at the clinic than at the “big hospitals.” On seeing Dr. Sofia for a consultation, she conducted fresh tests and diagnosed him with TB. Dr. Sofia referred Peter to IOM’s Eastleigh Community Wellness Centre, where he was very surprised to learn that TB treatment is offered free of charge. “I was waiting to be given a huge medical bill, only to be told that I will receive treatment for free.”
At this point, the only challenge was the 120 kilometer journey he would have to make from Kinangop to the clinic. However, this did not deter him from seeking full recovery.
“I will use this experience; to educate my community on TB because the awareness levels are very low. Most people do not know much about TB; we think you have TB when you cough blood.” This is simply one of many perceptions held by community members that require urgent attention.